Sichuan Peppercorn Burgers With Chili-Ginger Mayo and Cucumber Pickles Recipe

The tingly heat of Sichuan peppercorns wakes this burger up big time. Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Pressing a dimple into each patty prevents it from seizing up into a ball.
  • Minimally handling the beef and seasoning it only at the last minute maintains its loose, open texture.
  • Turning the patties repeatedly during cooking produces a better edge-to-edge gradient that's rare, medium-rare or medium, depending on your preference.

Inspired by beef momo seasoned with the tingly heat of Sichuan peppercorns, these burgers are spiked with a fragrant mixture of that spice, plus cumin, star anise, fennel, chili flakes, and brown sugar. A tangy chili mayo with plenty of fresh ginger and cucumber pickles round it out.

Recipe Facts

Active: 25 mins
Total: 25 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, shiny black seeds and stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, preferably Thai
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 small star anise pod (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon red chili paste, such as Sambal Oelek
  • 1 (2-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck, preferably about 80 percent lean, formed into 4 (6-ounce) patties
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 English muffins, split and toasted
  • Quick Pickled Cucumbers, for topping burgers
  • Cilantro leaves and tender stems, for topping burgers


  1. In a medium skillet, toast Sichuan peppercorns, cumin, red pepper flakes, fennel, and anise over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in brown sugar until thoroughly combined.

  2. In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, chili paste, grated ginger, and rice vinegar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  3. Press a dimple into the top of each burger patty. Season patties generously with salt and pepper. Cook to desired doneness on a hot grill or in an oiled skillet on the stovetop, 120°F for rare, 125°F for medium rare, or 135°F for medium; sprinkle all over with spice mixture during last minute of cooking. Transfer to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

  4. Set burger patties on English muffin bottom halves, and top each with chili mayo. Top with pickled cucumbers and cilantro. Close burgers and serve.

Special equipment

Large skillet or grill, mortar and pestle or spice grinder


This recipe would also work well with lamb, and the patties can be grilled instead of griddled, if desired. If your star anise pods are large, break one in half and use that.

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